Social Media and Branded Content have become more than buzzwords in the marketing communications industry. It’s become integral to any marketing plan. However, it’s increasingly being used incorrectly. it’s not a guaranteed ROI generator. Even worse, it can be detrimental to your business.
We’ve learnt from the mistakes of others, and we’ve learnt that we cannot copy others. We’ve also learnt that the relationship with the user is more valuable than the number of users we interact with.
The golden rule when using branded content is to be relevant – every new tool, format and trend in the digital space must have a purpose. Does live streaming, twitter parties and chat bots add value to your brand? It’s like having a party and no-one turning up. You begin to actually lose brand equity if you make choices based on what’s trending in the industry. Be smart, be efficient, be engaging – relate content back to your brand identity and to the story you want to tell people.
Despite the success stories of brands who have propelled through harnessing the power of social media, it’s not all positive. Cheap clickbait to content gets you traffic and views but amongst an unengaged audience who won’t buy your product or the mood to consider it. Conversely, intrusive ads are so hyper-personalised that they elicit negative emotions like rage, annoyance and a feeling of violation.
Brands can overspend on content.
Last week was a confusing one for me. I read in the industry press that a former colleague had been appointed Head of Content at a global agency, assigned the task of creating ‘quality content over quantity’. I then read a post on linkedin about how consumers don’t need more content, they need better content. I also got served an email from marketing week about how to create video content on a shoestring budget. I was then approached by a company that creates ultra cheap video content for publishers. So which is it? Firstly, it is vital that your content is engaging, but that doesn’t always mean it has high production values. With content continuing to grow year on year, it’s important to remember that:
86% of people skip TV ads.
90% of people skip pre-roll ads.
Adblock usage grew 30% globally in 2016
‘Better’ content is often confused with ‘expensive’ content; like high production values will guarantee engagement and make your brand viral. Many advertisers devote millions to content creation but barely shift the dial on key metrics like preference, consideration, affinity. What’s missing is the need for the content to be relevant. To encourage an action or an emotion.
A well-known brand we worked with had a problem – they spent millions on content, but failed to invest in an effective distribution strategy that was localised to each market. Budget must be allocated toward the distribution of content to ensure targeted awareness. Another client paid a lot of money for a celebrity to post about their products as part of a wider campaign we managed. The posts using glossy images from a £20k photo shoot got a fraction of the engagement that a simple mobile upload did from her phone. Our target audience wanted authenticity and realness.
The maze this is ‘content’ is this decade’s biggest opportunity for brands. It’s also the biggest risk.
Invest with caution. Invest with a strategy.